.NET vision is about making software and information available
anytime, anywhere and on any device'
Microsoft announced its Hailstorm and .NET initiatives,
many people wondered what these were all about, and some
even dismissed it as vapourware. So we asked Daniel
Ingitaraj, Marketing Manager-.NET servers and developer
tools, Microsoft India, for details. Ingitaraj also told
us about the initiatives Microsoft India is taking to
promote .NET among developers and enterprises
the .NET Manager at Microsoft India what are you engaged
with at the moment? Is it true that Microsoft India is
involved in a big way in making Java to .NET migration
The Microsoft India Development Center announced the availability
of the Java User Migration Path or JUMP to .NET approximately
six months ago. That was our first offering, and at this
moment I would not be able to comment on other work that
might be on in this area at the Development Center.
We have at this time more than 105 companies building
applications on .NET and quite a few of the ISV 's are
developing the next versions of the products on .NET,
also ISVs are developing vertical applications some of
which require migration from Java in that sense, we have
been helping them.
What initiatives have you launched to promote .NET
amongst the developers and the enterprises?
Over the last year, we have launched several initiatives
to help developers and our enterprise customers migrate
to .NET. These include partners programs like ISV.NET
and .NET Gain.
ISV.NET is a worldwide initiative launched by Microsoft
Corporation, to help software houses develop next generation
products on the .NET platform. .NET Gain, is a similar
initiative aimed at helping such companies in developing
solutions on the .NET platform. In India, companies like
TCS, Satyam, Mastek etc have developed solutions on the
We also recently announced the First Wave partnership
program with NIIT and i-flex a program aimed at readying
these companies for product development using VS.NET.
Under the partnership, Microsoft will provide these companies
with in-depth technical help and support during the product
development phase, and these companies will have solutions/applications
built using VS.NET available by the time of its launch
at the end of this year.
Additionally, we introduced a Visual Studio.NET Induction
Program, an India specific program, in January this year.
Under the program, we now have more than 105 companies
building applications on Visual Studio.NET.
With the .NET Framework you can use any language you
want, so how is Microsoft planning to position Visual
Basic and C#?
The .NET Framework is a Multilanguage platform. Out of
20 odd languages that are supported on .NET, Microsoft
is creating 3 languages Visual Basic.NET, Visual C++.NET
and C#. These will be the 3 primary languages in Visual
Studio.NET. Microsoft will also be creating compilers
for these languages for additional support.
The .NET Framework will provide an enhanced version of
Visual Basic, so the Visual Basic option for .NET will
now be available to them. C# on the other hand, is the
first component oriented programming language in the C
and C++ family, combining the power and the control of
these two languages with the functional ease and rapid
applications development tools. C# provides developers
an environment completely in sync with emerging Web standards
but at the same time provides easy integration with existing
applications. It is in that sense, truly a next generation
Both C# and Visual Basic.NET target CLR and as such choice
of the language depends largely on the familiarity with
the language syntax. C/C++ programmers will most probably
choose C#, while existing VB programmers will find Visual
Basic.NET most attractive as they are already familiar
with VB syntax, for building .NET applications.
How does Windows CE fit into the .NET platform and
what initiatives are you planning for it in India?
The .NET vision is about making software and information
available anytime, anywhere and on any device. Windows
CE is the platform we provide for handheld computers and
PDAs and will be the platform that delivers on the "any
device" part of this vision.
We are working on quite a few areas on this front:
Mobile Internet Toolkit: Developing applications for mobile
devices like cell phones, pagers, and PDAs is challenging
for reasons such as the need for different markup languages
including HTML for PDAs, Wireless Markup Language (WML)
for WAP phones, and compact HTML (cHTML) for Japanese
Devices have different form factors. For example, devices
have varying numbers of display lines, horizontal or vertical
screen orientation, color or b/w displays and different
.NET Compact Framework: This is a smaller footprint of
the .NET Framework to run on these devices. The CLR-common
language runtime is needed for applications to run on
PC devices. The same application can run on devices using
the .NET Compact Framework that will be on these devices.
The Compact Framework will determine how the application
that runs on a large device like a PC, will run on a small
device like Pocket PC or mobile phones. Developers need
not change any code to make their application run on these
devices. Contrast this to today
where an application developer has to create applications
with different code base and footprint for different
How can you be sure that people will want and pay for
Web Services? The Hailstorm model is based on consumers
paying for these services.
Analysts have long predicted that the Internet is going
to create a new economy. It is going to be a platform
for new business. But in the last 10 years very few companies
have made profits out of a business model based on Internet.
The B2C era went by and many promises went haywire as
a commerce business model based on eyeballs or driving
traffic to a site was not compelling enough. Real commerce
wasn't quite possible either. The dismal performance of
the Internet as a medium of conducting business can be
attributed to a large extent to the very nature of the
Internet as it exists today.
The Web is now ten years old, and the medium is still
static in nature. By that I mean, the content on the Internet
is static in nature, not modifiable, and certainly not
flexible. The content on the Internet was developed only
to display information. All we had therefore was a universal
client, called the browser that allowed people to access
and view information on various sites. What the Internet,
and the client we used therefore, was not created to exchange
or allow interaction between information, which is why
I say that the Internet, the way it existed was not meant
for transactions or business.
To conduct business on the Internet, like in the offline
mode, something needs to be traded in exchange for something
else some amount of goods trading can take place, like
software that can be bought or sold, but the real business
opportunity on the Internet lies in developing and offering
Web Services to people who need them. Now with standards
like XML and SOAP, the Internet will become interactive,
and real, seamless exchange of data will be possible Web
Services in that sense, present the biggest business opportunity
for those who want to leverage this new medium.
Of course, like any other product or service offering,
the acceptance of Web Services will be dependant on the
value that these offer to the consumer. Web Services,
we believe, have the potential to drastically change the
way people work with the Internet, and really, make the
Internet and related technologies work for them. Web Services
developed by a company or by a developer can be used for
a variety of purposes, while providing companies that
develop these services an easy way of making them available
Consumers today are willing to pay for the services that
are offered to them in the offline world there's no reason
why they wouldn't be willing to pay for those offered
through the Internet if the service they get meets their
expectation. Microsoft's business model is based on both
licenses (like what we currently sell) and end-user subscriptions.
The business model for other companies will depend on
their specific needs, but in general will fall into one
of the following categories:
They provide an XML Web Service that users pay for
They provide an XML Web Service that users pay for
on a per-use basis
They provide an XML Web Service to an intermediary
who pays them for it (and who presumably has a business
model of their own for generating revenue)
They provide an XML Web Service for free that is used
to sell other goods or services offered by the company
They provide an XML Web Service for free and make
money from the data gathered through the use of their
XML Web service
They sell a .NET experience through a subscription
or traditional software license
In Hailstorm the business model could be something like
End users will be charged subscription and/or premium
fees for Web Services and applications that use or
"consume" Hailstorm services. Microsoft
will offer a variety of subscriptions for consumers,
knowledge workers and other customer segments, delivered
by various product divisions. Hailstorm offers the
opportunity for third party adopters to create, sell,
and realize revenue for subscription services and
applications built on Hailstorm too.
Some Hailstorm services may have usage sensitive charges
(e.g. storage for My Documents).
How do you view competitive plans from Sun Microsystems,
HP and IBM in the Web Services area?
IBM: IBM worked with Microsoft to create SOAP specifications.
They understand, and are building standards like XML,
SOAP, and UDDI into the next versions of their products.
However, IBM has never had a strong developer tools product
line and most of its products are based around Java/J2EE.
It will be interesting to see how they revolve around
a spec that does not support Web Services and how they
will build their own Web Services story.
Sun: It is great that Sun is jumping on the Web Services
bandwagon and validating what the rest of the industry
already knows to be true: that Web Services represent
the next significant evolution of computing. Sun is finally
However, Sun still does not see the full power of XML
Web Services with respect to smart clients. They are talking
about "Modern Devices", which are merely browser-based
dumb clients, where all of the logic and control live
on the big centralized server. Today J2EE specs do not
have anything to do with Web Services. They announced
at SunONE in Feburary 2001; after this the industry has
been waiting for more details, some specs to emerge nothing
has emerged so far.
This is leading to J2EE vendors like WebLogic coming with
their own implementations of Web Services just to
be in the game. This is leading back to the good old Unix
days where we had multiple variants of Unix we are getting
a fragmented industry with different J2EE specs implementation.
HP: After e-speak, I have frankly not heard anything for
close to two years now. The last I heard was that e-speak
is going to support SOAP. That is good news in the sense
that from a proprietary protocol e-speak is now moving
to an industry standard. I like to hear some news on e-speak
to consider it a competition in the Web Services arena.
What's the core business model behind Microsoft.NET?
And why should corporations pay attention to Microsoft
Microsoft is creating an advanced new generation of software
that will drive the Next Generation Internet. We call
this initiative Microsoft .NET, and its purpose is to
make information available any time, any place, on any
The driving force behind Microsoft .NET is a shift in
focus from individual websites or devices to new constellations
of computers, devices, and services that work together
to deliver broader, richer solutions. People will have
control over how, when, and what information is delivered
to them. Computers, devices, and services will be able
to collaborate directly with each other, and businesses
will be able to offer their products and services in a
way that lets customers embed them in their own electronic
The writer can be reached at: email@example.com